Full 2006 GMC Yukon XL Review
What's New for 2006
The GMC Yukon XL has a few additional features for 2006. OnStar, a tire-pressure monitor and stability control are now standard on all trim levels. Steering wheel-mounted audio controls are new this year, and the optional towing/camping exterior mirrors have been revised. Lastly, the interesting but expensive Quadrasteer four-wheel steering system has been dropped for 2006.
The Yukon XL is GMC's largest SUV. Able to seat up to nine people, this is a very versatile hauler and should more than adequately serve families that have heavy-duty towing and hauling needs. Its roots can be traced back to 1936. Known as the GMC Suburban back then, this vehicle was merely a standard panel van with a few extra seats and windows. It earned a reputation as a sturdy people mover, however, and now, 10 generations later, the tradition continues with the GMC Yukon XL.
Along with the name change in 2000, the Yukon XL received a modern chassis that gave a more comfortable ride and improved overall performance. A luxurious and powerful Denali version was added a year later to give the Yukon XL more traction against a growing number of full-size luxury sport-utilities. A lineup of three V8 engines is available depending on your needs, and a laundry list of interior options allows you to add as much or as little luxury as you might want. Modern advancements like a stability control system make the Yukon XL safer than ever before. Although there are a few capable competitors out there, the 2006 GMC Yukon XL remains one of the most popular vehicles for those looking for maximum passenger capacity in a comfortable, easy-to-drive package.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The standard GMC Yukon XL is offered in half-ton (1500) and three-quarter-ton (2500) configurations. The 1500 models come in SL, SLE and Denali trim, while the 2500 is available in SLE trim only. Standard equipment for SL models includes tri-zone manual air conditioning, cruise control, a driver message center, keyless entry, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel and a CD player. The SLE is similar but grants access to additional features such as automatic climate control, leather seating, a floor console with integrated rear-passenger stereo and climate controls and an upgraded audio system via an SLT option package. Top-of-the-line Denali models come standard with just about every feature available, although items like a DVD-based entertainment system and a sunroof are still optional.
Powertrains and Performance
SL and SLE 1500 models feature a 5.3-liter V8 rated at 295 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The Denali and SLE 2500 models come standard with a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 335 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. Optional on the 2500 is an 8.1-liter V8 that cranks out 325 hp and 447 lb-ft of torque. The bigger V8s get a heavy-duty four-speed automatic. Both two- and four-wheel drive are available on all models, except the Denali, which is all-wheel drive only. The GMC Yukon XL 1500 can tow up to 8,500 pounds (8,100 on the Denali). The 2500 models equipped with the 6.0-liter engine can tow up to 9,900 pounds. With the 8.1-liter engine, capacity jumps to 12,000 pounds.
The Yukon XL comes with front airbags that deploy based on crash severity, a tire-pressure monitoring system, four-wheel antilock disc brakes and the StabiliTrak stability control system. Front-seat side airbags are standard on the Denali, optional on the SLE and not available on the SL. In crash tests conducted by the NHTSA, the 2006 GMC Yukon XL received four stars (out of five) for protection of the driver and front passenger in front-impact crashes.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior of the GMC Yukon XL is spacious with solid ergonomics and plenty of creature comforts. There's room for nine if you stick with bench seats, but ordering the optional captain's chairs drops capacity to seven passengers. Like many GMC trucks there's a little more plastic than we would like and the build quality could be better, but overall it's still a pleasant environment for a family vehicle. The Yukon XL leads the class in cargo capacity (132 cubic feet) but doesn't offer fold-flat seats unlike a few competitors.
We're impressed with the Yukon XL's smooth, comfortable ride quality and easy-to-drive nature. Thanks to a stiff frame and a well-insulated cabin, this big SUV is generally quiet and rattle-free, making it a great long-distance cruiser. The ride of the heavy-duty three-quarter-ton models is a little less forgiving for rear-seat passengers, but they're still comfortable enough to be daily drivers.